Apple, featured, IT, Microsoft, Product Mgmt

Dear vendor, no more “only IE supported”

22 Jun , 2011  

Thou shalt only use Internet Explorer. Gone are the days of the “one official browser” corporate IT standard. At least that’s the principle I operate under. I’ve vowed not to purchase or select a product, application or SaaS service that restricts itself to Internet Explorer, or any other single web browser.

The world of web browsers is just simply too diverse for most organizations to truly operate under a one web browser only policy, which has traditionally been Internet Explorer in most IT shops.

Why?

Users demand choice. Users have very strong preferences. Whether it’s Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer or whatever… many (most?) end users want to use the web browser of their choosing, not the browser dictated by the company or by IT.

Web access from multiple devices. If I’m on my phone, my laptop, my computer, it doesn’t matter – I want to get to all applications, sites, etc. from whatever device is in use when the need occurs.That means it could be an iPad or iPhone one moment, a Windows 7 device another, or a MacBook at another time.

More and more users aren’t running Windows (or don’t want to.) What about Linux or Mac users? Why should they have to use a remote desktop, run a virtual Windows machine locally, or use or borrow another Windows computer to access an application or site that only supports IE?

Why don’t all vendors products support the most commonly used web browsers?

Supporting multiple browsers means adding code specific to browsers, supporting multiple versions of each browser, dealing with the myriad of browser idiosyncrasies, exponential testing variations, and ultimately added cost to create and support products. Having designed and built commercial web based software products, I know it’s hard and complex. While I sympathize with vendors, users don’t. If they prefer to use Chrome, Safari or Firefox, well… they expect your site, application or service to support their browser of choice.

It used to be acceptable for a product to start out only supporting a single browser, most often IE, and then add support for additional browsers further down the product roadmap. Not any more. Users expect products to at least support IE, Firefox and Safari, on Windows (IE), Mac and Linux platforms with product version 1.0. Chrome also has a loyal following.

My recommendation is bite the bullet and design for multi-browser support right up front. It’s much easier to do as you incrementally add features, versus retrofitting an entire product 2, 3 or more years down the road. And you won’t be facing the negative cost-benefit dilemma of retrofitting multi-browser support vs. adding features needed to make sales or customers happy. By the time you get to that point, you’ll be so proficient at cross-browser support, you’ll be rockin-and-rollin at creating new features that also work across browsers.

Apple, featured, Hardware

MacBook Air refresh coming soon? Will MacBook Air dominate? With Mac OS X Lion?

16 Jun , 2011  

Speculation around the MacBook Air refresh is at a fevered pitch. It seems the speculation around every move by Apple has become a constant. I’m waiting on the expected MacBook Airs as part of a company computer refresh.

I’m guessing the specs around the new MacBook Air will receive a respectable bump up with the move to Intel’s new Sandy Bridge CPU. Performance improvements are anticipated to be up to a 17% gain over Nehalem generation CPUs and embedded Intel graphic performance is said to double. Thunderbolt high speed I/O support is assumed but it’s rumored the Airs won’t ship until they can include the Mac OS X Lion release.

What I find most interesting is speculation by Chris Whitmore (via an AppleInsider article) that MacBook Airs could be as much as 50% of Apple’s laptop sales at 1.5 million MacBook Airs sold per quarter. I actually think this might not be that far off of a prediction. Here’s why.

In helping users determine what Mac would best suit their work, a surprising number lean towards a MacBook Air (especially the anticipated new models.) Not just travel-heavy users, but even the more technical population. I also hear some users choose the MacBook Air instead of an iPad, given the 11″ Air is fairly close in size and weight — why not opt for a full computer and keyboard for the modest size and weight increase.

Apple, featured, IT, Microsoft, Product Mgmt

My Story of the Ribbon Menu

19 Dec , 2010  

If you're upgrading to Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010, or recently upgraded, then you're in the thick of relearning all of the Office products. It's a bit daunting at first. I remember when the first Office 2007 and 2010 public betas came out. I hated the new ribbon menu and all that entailed learning how to perform the same tasks I already knew using the old dropdown menu metaphor. I thought things were perfectly fine and Microsoft was making a huge mistake, and I didn't have any plans on changing my views about it… mostly because I was not happy about the significant drop in productivity when switching to Office 2007 ribbon menus.

Fast forward to about a year ago plus. It wasn't until I began using Office on my Mac (Office Mac 2008) more frequently that I really appreciated, and dare I say "miss" the Office 2007/2010 ribbon menus. Once you find the functions you commonly use, the ribbon menu is much quicker to perform everyday tasks, and faster finding those features you used to have to hunt down hidden inside one of the old Office menus.

Note: Here's a fantastic video about the history of the ribbon menu and how Microsoft UI designers came to develop this new user interface paradigm… http://videos.visitmix.com/MIX08/UX09. It's a bit long but worth it if you into this sort of thing.

Do I "love" the Office ribbon menus? No, can't say I'm sold to that degree but now that I've become accustom to them I find I prefer the ribbon menu to the old Office 2003 (and older) interface. Office Mac 2011 brings ribbon menus to the Mac, and with them, much more consistency between Office on these two OS platforms.

If you're knee deep trying in the middle of learning the new Office 2007/2010 ribbon menu interface, hang in there. It will start to become familiar. You may have a love-hate relationship with them for a while but they'll eventually grow on you.

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featured, Mobility

Android Nexus S is Here

19 Dec , 2010  

How will Google’s Android Nexus S smartphone fair? Phones bearing Google’s Android OS continue to gain steam in the marketplace. I see lots of users who probably would have liked an iPhone but have Android phones instead, and seem just as happy with them. A Best Buy email ad just popped into my inbox promoting Google’s own smartphone, the Android Nexus S on T-Mobile. Sales began last Thursday, December 16, and the phone is selling for $199 with a 2 year plan (or $529 with no plan) and is running the latest Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread version. Sales in the UK begin tomorrow.

I don’t own any Android devices…yet…and I haven’t really spent much time on an Android device to really know how well it stacks up to Apple’s IOS 4. But I do have a Samsung Galaxy table coming soon which will close my Android OS experience gap rather quickly. I don’t have plans to move off my iPad anytime soon but if Android proves to be more effective in a business and IT setting, that would be pretty compelling.

Time will tell whether the Nexus S is a better phone than HTC, Motorola and others make. If there’s one potential advantage it’s that the Nexus S may have less (or next to none) bloatware vs. what other manufactures load on. We’ll see on all counts.

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featured, Microsoft, Mobility, Network, Podcasts

Podcast: Windows Azure, Windows 7 zero day and 2nd iPhone worm

24 Nov , 2009  

Welcome again to the Alan and Mitchell Podcast. We're still working on a new podcast name so hang in there until we have something better.

During the podcast, Alan and I talk about:

1. New security features in Windows Azure
2. The first zero day for Windows 7
3. 2nd iPhone worm
4. HP/3Com
5. Why is security so hard
6. Fortinet's IPO
7. Cloud Computing becoming part of the pop culture

Thanks for joining us and enjoy the podcast!

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featured, General

Police Bullets Converge On Bank Robbers and Getway Car

19 Nov , 2009  

Scene 3 I was driving back from a meeting downtown today and needed to stop by my house to pick up the zip pouch with my bank stuff in it. I needed to make a deposit at the 1st Bank I use down the street.

Driving west on 120th on the border dividing Westminster and Broomfield (Colorado), I came up on two police cars blocking the street in both directions right where I turn into my subdivision. 

It was odd because I had seen the exact same thing a week ago, only it was nighttime, when 120th was blocked off at Huron (about 4 blocks the other direction) because some 26 year old idiot decided to commit road rage and shoot and kill another motorist. Though I made the connection that both sights looked eerily similar, I saw a silver car and a black car that looked like they had been in an accident together. So I figured that's what it was.

I got to my house on the northwest side of our subdivision, grabbed my bank pouch, and drove the long way around our subdivision to 1st Bank which is just three lights from my house. It was strange when I pulled into the bank parking lot because the first two rows of customer parking spots in front of the bank were completely empty. The first cars I could see were where the bank employees park. "Good," I thought, "I'll get in and out with no wait."

When I went in the only people that were in the bank were employees. No customers in sight. I think even the window blinds hand been closed, but I'm not sure about that. All the bank employees were calm, very friendly, and seemed extra nice. I filled out my deposit slip, visited the teller, grabbed two complimentary dog cookies for my dogs and headed out the door.

Scene close up 2 After taking the same detour and arriving home, my wife said the TV news said something about a bank robbery. They'd shown a picture of a 1st Bank that "looked a lot like ours." A few moments later I see a crawl across the bottom of the TV screen describing a bank robbery, a chase and two bank robbers were killed at the intersection 300 yards from my house.

The phone rang. It was my next door neighbor. I was stunned as she described how she was working in her home office, heard a car crash, and stood up to look out the window to see what happened. What she described was amazing.

"I stood there, saw the cops jump out of 5 or 6 cop cars and pump what must have been 50 rounds into the car. They just started shooting, no 'come out with your hands up.' It sounded like fireworks going off. I saw a neighbor kid hit the ground when he heard the shots." Then she asked, "Would you like to walk down and see it?"

You kidding? Heck yah.

Tv ant My neighbor, my wife and I walked down to the scene. 30 yellow evidence markers we splayed out along the road just next to the car. The car looked like the vehicle in the Godfather movie that was riddled with bullets when it stopped at a toll booth. There were bullet holes all over the side of the car, and the back window was shot out. 5 TV trucks had the cherry picker antennas extended to broadcast next to the nearby restaurant. And there were more cops standing around than the inside of a Crispy Creme donut shop.

I took some pictures with my iPhone, checked out the scene for 20 minutes or so, talked to other neighbors there to see the scene for themselves, and then headed back home.

I checked the TV and Internet to see what details they had. Turns out three hours earlier a man and a women robbed the 1st Bank where I bank (the one I'd just visited) and drove off in a silver Subaru Impreza. I'm guessing they drove south on Sheridan and then east on 104th to the Federal intersection.

The bank robbers had stopped at a Safeway discount gas station at 104th and Federal to get some gas. (Ah… note to self… remember to fill up with gas before pulling a heist if I ever decided to rob a bank.) These 2 moron's had stopped to fill up with gas AFTER robbing the bank. That's where the police spotted them.

An unmarked police car spotted the silver car matching the description and started to pursue the robbers leaving the gas station. The woman fired at the police car through the Impreza's back window. Bystanders said the police car was hit.

Scene close up 2 The cops chased the robbers north on Federal where the Subaru turned east on 120th… directly towards my house (we live on the north west most corner of our subdivision on 120th.) The lead cop attempted a pit maneuver on the now gassed up getaway car but ended up ramming it, causing the car to spin and stop facing the opposite direction from traffic, pointing right at the now multiple cop cars chasing them. That's the wreck my neighbor had heard when she stood to look and see what was going on.

The news verified much of her account. A woman jumped out of the car and started firing at the now stopped police cars. The cops literally opened fire spewing a gauntlet of bullets at the woman standing there and the man still remaining in the car. The cops pumped a barrage of 30 lead rounds into the two robbers and their car.

Patrons eating outside the Bakers Street Brew Pub 100 yards behind the robbers wrecked car hit the deck when they heard the shots. One person's account said the shots went on continuously for about 10 seconds.

 The male bank robber died sitting in the getaway car, still wearing his seatbelt. (I guess seatbelts  don't save lives after all.) The female robber was taken away in an ambulance and pronounced dead when they arrived at the hospital. A police officer had non-life threatening injuries (from the auto accident maybe?) and was taken to the same hospital.

After visiting the scene I came back to the house, turned on the news, checked the Internet and started writing this blog post. That's what we know at this point and time.

Next time I'm checking the newsbefore I head out to the bank.

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Blog, featured, General, Social

How to get started at blogging

19 Nov , 2009  

Write a one sentence blog post per week.

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featured, Microsoft, Podcasts, Security

Reintroducing The Alan and Mitchell Podcast

12 Nov , 2009  

New_podcast_big_2_sm Well, we're back at it again. Alan and I are doing the podcast again and we are enjoying it even more. 

During this episode, Alan and I talk about:

  • Is the CISO role really just a consulting gig?
  • Microsoft Security Essentials free malware software
  • Microsoft Forefront 2010 for Exchange
  • and Alan's leaving StillSecure

The podcast is full of the usually banter and tomfoolery so join us for thirty-five minutes of fun and good security information. 

And don't forget to send us your podcast name ideas. The winner will receive a free t-shirt (the valuable part of the prize) and get to appear on our podcast. Email me at <mitchell at mitchellashley dot com>.

featured, General

Podcast Naming Contest

11 Nov , 2009  

Alan Shimel and I are back doing our podcast again. We recorded an episode last night and should be up in the next day or so.

We've started a podcast naming contest and we'd love your suggestions. The winner submitting the name we select will get a t-shirt with our new logo on it (including the name) and an appearance on our podcast.

Email me (mitchell at mitchellashley dot com) your suggestions or leave a comment on this blog post.

I'll let you know when the "Alan and Mitchell" podcast is up.

In the meantime, check out my Network World podcast about Microsoft Office Web Apps which has a lot of rich information about how Microsoft will delver their free and enterprise versions of Office in a web browser.

featured, General

The Year The Media Died

14 Jul , 2009  

Now, I'm not actually a subscriber to the theory that traditional media is dead to be replaced completely by digital and social media. Newspapers may be drying up while social media is ramping up but things are never as black and white as they may seem they'll be. But, I ran across this Mad Avenue Blues video on GuruOfNew and thought it worth sharing with you.

Enjoy the video.

http://www.youtube.com/v/6CqRcCHk_Pc&hl=en&fs=1&